On November 22nd, The Vilnius City District Court adopted a decision concerning the complaint of a Lithuanian citizen. The court obliged the Registry Office in Vilnius to spell her daughter’s name using the letter “w” and to issue a new birth certificate.
The court acknowledged that the family lives currently in Dubai. While registering the child’s birth, the Registry Office spelled the name “Darbovli” and refused to use original spelling. In this case, the refusal to register the original name and to issue a new birth certificate with the name “Darbowli” might create administrative, professional and personal inconveniences when proving identity and authenticity of the documents in the future and maybe even when implementing the parental rights and responsibilities, as well as in matter of succession. In the court’s opinion, the absence of consent for spelling the name with the letter “w” is a disproportionate disadvantage for the applicant and her child, because it results in the refusal to issue a birth certificate with the letter “w”. The refusal to register the name with the letter “w” is also a violation of the principle of the inviolability of private and family life and the right to a name (Art. 2.20 of the Civil Code).
The decision of the court is especially important for Lithuanian women, who married a foreigner who is not a citizen of the European Union or who had his child. As in other similar cases, the court relied on the opinion of the Commission of the Lithuanian Language, which allows for derogations in case of Lithuanian citizens who marry foreigners and take theirs name, as well as for their children – in such marriages names may be written using Latin letters; the identity card of the foreigner is used as a source document.
On November 30th, the Vilnius City District Court adopted a decision concerning the family “Howell” and pledged the Registry Office to register the marriage of E. Hovell and to issue a marriage certificate with the name “Howell”. The court’s decision was based on the same arguments that let the “Darbowli” family win their case.
The European Foundation of Human Rights hopes that the newly elected government will pay attention to this matter and that it will take into account the judicial decisions and adopt new laws corresponding to the practice of the Court of Justice of the European Union and the provisions of the convention. It should be noted that the Registry Office and the Commission of the Lithuanian Language agree that the record of the names using original spelling does not pose a threat to the conservation of the Lithuanian language.
It is already the thirteenth case concerning the spelling of the names that was accepted. There are 10 more cases waiting for the court’s decision. EFHR provides free legal assistance to all citizens having the problem with the original spelling of their names.